Yard Long Beans (aka Chinese Long Beans or Snake Beans) are commonly eaten throughout South East Asia. They are similar to the more familiar green bean but can grow up to 3 feet in length! They are best eaten when they are young & tender (12-25” in length). I have seen these beans in many large supermarkets & grocery stores but your Indian and Asian markets will definitely carry these lovely long beans. They have a mild & delicate flavor but pair well with Indian spices. Their texture is softer and they are not as crispy as the common green beans but they are fabulous and worth trying if you have never had them before.
Yard Long Beans are healthy & nutritious as well. They are packed with iron, folic acid & are a rich source of dietary fiber. They are also anti-oxidants and promote good cardiovascular health.
YARD LONG BEANS BHAJI (Stir Fried with Indian Spices)
½ lb yard long beans, trimmed and cut into 1½” pieces
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1” piece of ginger, peeled & finely minced
3-4 dried red chilies, to taste
½ tsp turmeric (haldi)
¼ tsp ground cumin powder
salt & pepper, to taste
2 tbsp oil (peanut, vegetable or canola)
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
freshly chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish
good handful of freshly grated coconut, for garnish
In a large pot of boiling salted water, blanch the long beans for just a few minutes until their skin has blistered. Drain and allow to cool slightly, set aside until needed.
Now in a large deep skillet or wok on medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, add the shallots along with the garlic & ginger. Stir-fry until just browned, then add the dried red chilies and the spices (turmeric, ground cumin powder, salt & pepper). Stir-fry for another minute so the spices can fry in the oil. Now add the long beans and mix well to combine all of the ingredients. Let cook for 4-5 minutes or until the beans are completely tender. Garnish with the toasted sesame seeds, cilantro leaves & the freshly grated coconut. Serve hot with warm chapatis & fragrant Basmati rice.
You could add some toasted cashew pieces to the dish for texture if you like. Feel free to add other vegetables such as baby corn, baby potatoes, mushrooms, baby carrots, cauliflower florets, grape/cherry tomatoes…
You could also add a cup or so of cooked chickpeas to the dish for a little protein.